15TH REGIMENT, MISSISSIPPI INFANTRY VOLUNTEERS

(from "Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898," by Dunbar Rowland)

The regiment was organized at Corinth from the companies ordered by Governor PetIns to assemble there May 21, 1861. Soon after their arrival they were mustered into the Confederate States service for twelve months and field officers were elected June 6, 1861, Statham, Hemphill and Dennis. With the Fourteenth, organized under the same circumstances, the Fifteenth was ordered to Union City, Tenn., and thence, August 13, to Russellville, for duty with General Zollicoffer. At Knoxville, September 12, the Fourteenth was ordered to Cumberland Gap. October 16, Colonel Statham, with 600 of his regiment received orders for a march to Barboursville. On this expedition, with other regiments of the command, the Fifteenth skirmished with Schoepf's Union Brigade at Camp Wildcat, on Rockcastle hills October 21, Schoepf reporting a loss of 4 killed, 20 wounded; Zollicoffer 11 killed, 42 wounded.

Returning to Cumberland Gap with a wagon train loaded with salt, they made another advance into Kentucky November 7, and on the 14th Starham was ordered to occupy Wartburg and intrench. They went into winter quarters.

The Fifteenth was returned November 20, 1861, 1,051 present and absent, 553 present for duty; in December, at Beech Grove, Ky., 854 present for duty.

Being approached by a Federal command under Gen. George H. Thomas, General Crittenden advanced on January 19th, Zollicoffer's Brigade led by the Fifteenth under Lieutenant-Colonel Walthall. General Crittenden, in his report of the battle of Fishing Creek, describing the fall of Zollicoffer and the confusion that followed, wrote: "For an hour now the Fifteenth Mississippi, under Lieutenant-Colonel Walthall and the Twentieth Tennessee, under Col. Joel Battle, had been struggling with the superior force of the enemy. I cannot omit to mention the heroic valor of these two regiments, officers and men. When the left retired they were flanked and compelled to leave their position." The Sixteenth Alabama went to their support, but the remainder of the little army was breaking into rout. Many of the men were armed with flintlock muskets. "The regiment was most gallantly led by Walthall," said Crittenden. "The reputation of the Mississippians for heroism was fully sustained by this regiment. Its loss and killed in wounded, which was far greater than that of any other regiment, tells sufficiently the story of discipline and courage. The limits of this report will not permit me to enumerate the individual acts of courage with which this regiment abounded. Suffice it to say that it is entitled to all praise." The regiment had 44 killed and 153 wounded; a record that has few parallels in any battle. Doubtless its heroic selfsacrifice saved the main part of the Confederate command from capture˙ The return also showed 29 missing, probably captured and partly wounded. The Fifteenth and Twentieth Tennessee fell back to the intrenchments on the Cumberland River, and after the troops had all crossed a detail of the Fifteenth burned the steamer that was used as a ferry.

In the reorganization of Johnston's forces February 23, Colonel Slatham was assigned to command of the Zollicoffer Brigade, including the Fifteenth under Major Brantley, and the Twenty-second.

Statham's Brigade was part of Breckenridge's "reserve corps" in the organization before the battle of Shiloh, and in that battle fought under his immediate command, participating in the capture of Prentiss' Division, and at the close of the first day were on the front line, occupying the heights overlooking the Tennessee River, under fire of the gunboats.

There was a reorganization in May, and re-enlistment for two years. Lieutenant-Colonel Walthall organized the Twenty-ninth Regiment, and became its commander.

The brigade, under command of Colonel Statham, composed of the Fifteenth, under Lieutenant-Colonel Fartell, and Twenty-second Mississippi, with four Tennessee regiments, served in support of Vicksburg, with the forces under General VanDorn, during the naval bombardment of June and July, 1862. While on this service Colonel Starham died. (Rietti's Annals.) The Fifteenth was posted on the present site of the National Cemetery, July 15, 1862, the day that the battleship Arkansas came down the Yazoo and ran through the Federal fleet above Vicksburg, and witnessed that memorable scene. (L. P. Carr.) Following is the return of the Fifteenth in Fourth Brigade, "Breckenridge's Division, Army of the Mississippi, Vicksburg, July 20, 1862 :" Col. W. S. Starham; Lieutenant-Colonel, M. Farrell; Major, J. R. Binford; Adjutant, J. A. Binford, Jr.; Acting Quartermaster, B. J. Dudley; Acting Commissary, Lieutenant, G. F. Crawford; Assistant Surgeon, Dr. Fleming.

The brigade formed part of the force taken to Louisiana by General Breckinridge, which made the attack on Baton Rouge, August 5, 1862. They were part of General Clark's Division; the brigade under c6mmand of Colonel T. B. Smith, of Tennessee, the Fifteenth commanded by Major Binford. "This admirable regiment, much reduced by long and gailant services, was held as a reserve, "General Breckenridge reported. After this they were on duty at Port Hudson, until ordered to Jackson, Miss.

The Fifteenth (Colonel Farrell), Twenty-second and Fifth Mississippi, First Missouri, and Caruther's Battalion, formed the brigade of Gen. John S. Bowen, in Lovell's Division, VanDorn's Army of West Tennessee. Van Dorn marched to Davis' Mill, twenty miles from Grand Junction, Tenn., and toward Bolivar, while General Price was advancing to Iuka, where he fought the battle of September 19, after which VanDorn fell back and was joined by Price at Ripley, whence they marched to Pocahontas, threatening the Federal post at Bolivar, and turning suddenly, crossed the Hatchic and Tuscumbia and attempted to surprise and take the fortifications at Corinth held by General Rosecrans. The brigade first formed line of battle east of Cypress Creek, October 3, the Fifteenth and Twenty-second forming the main line, the First Missouri and Caruther's Battalion on the skirmish line. With this formation they advanced steadily against the outer line of works, capturing the battery at the salient near the railroad, and driving the Federal infantry from the trenches. On the 4th the brigade advanced to within 600 yards of a strong line of redoubts, skirmished to develop the strength of the position, and were swept by such a destructive artillery fire that Bowen retired to a short distance and finally was ordered to the rear. Bowen's Brigade was the rear-guard of infantry on the retreat and the Fifteenth sustained the main attack at the Tuscumbia River bridge, which the regiment met coolly and repulsed. The brigade casualties were 28 killed, 92 wounded, 40 missing. They retreated to Ripley and Holly Springs. When Grant advanced from Memphis along the Central Railroad in December, the Fifteenth fell back to Grenada, and was in the fight at Coffeeville, December 5. At Grenada in January, 1863, the regiment was included in Rust's Brigade, Loring's Division. The brigade was ordered from Jackson to the Big Black River, February 9, and from Edwards to Port Hudson, February 22, and back to Jackson April 6. Company C, Captain P. H. Norton, had remained at Jackson, with Gen. John Adams. Were ordered to Tullahoma, Tenn., April x3, which order was countermanded as soon as the Federal boats ran the batteries at Vicksburg, April i6, Rust's Brigade was ordered consolidated with Tilghman's Brigade April 15. April 24, Adams was ordered to move the Fifteenth and Twenty-sixth from Jackson to Morton, at the time of Grierson's raid. The regiment at the time of this movement was 517 strong. April 29, Tilghman, at Jackson, was ordered to take the Fifteenth, Col. Fartell, and Twenty-sixth, and a field battery, to the Big Black, and take command of troops there. The Fifteenth is not named, however, in the reports of Tilghman's Brigade at the battle of Baker's Creek. In July, Gen. John Adams' Brigade included the Sixth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Twentieth, Twenty-third, Twenty-sixth Mississippi and Forney's Battalion. The brigade joined in the advance of Johnston's army to the Big Black near the close of the siege of Vicksburg, failing back to Jackson when Vicksburg surrendered, and at Jackson besieged by Sherman July 9-16, then retreating to Morton. Loring's Division was at Canton when Sherman began his march to Meridian from Vicksburg, in February, 1864, moved to Morton and retired to Demopolis, Ala., under the order of General Polk.

The brigade, under Gen. John Adams, served through the Atlanta campaign from the time of its arrival at Resaca, May 11, 1864, occupying intrenched lines there and on the Dalton and Kenesaw Mountain lines, was engaged on Peachtree Creek, and in the battle of July 28 near Atlanta, and in the trenches around the city until the evacuation, September 1. General Polk was killed at Pine Mountain, after which the Army of the Mississippi was known as A. P. Stewart's Corps, Army of Tennessee. The returns show Col. Michael Parrell in command of the regiment through the campaign.

July 19, at Mooro's Mill, on Peachtree Creek, the regiment participated in the attack of Reynold's Brigade upon the Federal advance. General Adams claimed that the regiment received the surrender of a Federal regimen. t, which, however, escaped. General Reynolds reported that a considerable number of prisoners were taken and that "the Fifteenth Mississippi acted gallantly when brought into action." The casualties of the regiment, May 12 to July 26, 17 killed, 80 wounded. Adjutant Mitchell was badly wounded; Lieutenant Hugh Montgomery was missing, supposed killed. Of this loss, a considerable part was in the battles of Resaca, May 13-15, and New Hope Church, May 27.

In the October, 1864, campaign on the Chattanooga and Atlanta Railroad, Loring's Division, including Adams' Brigade, captured the garrison at Acworth, October 4, an affair in which the Fifteenth had a prominent part; marched as far north as Dalton, thence through the mountains to Gadsden; made a demonstration against Decatur, and moved to Tuscumbia.

Crossing the river November 20, they marched with Stewart's Corps to Columbia and on November 29 joined in the flank movement to Spring Hill. Following closely upon the Federal retreat from Columbia to Spring Hill, they were heroic participants in the bloody assault of the evening of November 30. General Adsins was killed while leading his men against the second line of works, his horse falling across the parapet. Col. Robert Lowry, who succeeded to brigade command, reported that the flag of the Fifteenth Regiment was lost, four men having been shot down in bearing it. forward to the works. Colonel Fartell, a brilliant officer, was mortally wounded, and Lieut.-Col. Binford took command of the regiment. Lieutenants Young and Alien were killed; Lieuts. Shuler, Irish, Campbell, Hale, Tribble, wounded. The casualties of the brigade were 44 killed, 271 wounded, 23 missing. The effective strength of the brigade after the advance to Nashville was a little over 1,000, including six regiments. The position of Stewart’s Corps in front of Nashville was carried by General Thomas December 15, but Loring's Division was distinguished for steadiness in forming a new line to check the enemy and on the next day they repelled all assaults until the line broke on their left. In the last days of December they recrossed the Tennessee River and early in January the corps went into camp near Tupelo.

About the first of February, 1865, the remnant of Loring's Division began the movement to the Carolinas. February 25, they were ordered forward from Augusta, Ca., to Newberry, S.C. In the campaign under Gen. J. E. Johnston against General Sherman the division took part in the battles of Kinston, March 1o, and Bentonville, March 19-21. In the latter battle the division was distinguished by a gallant and successful charge.

Organization of army of Gen. J. E. Johnston, near Smithfield, N. C., March 31, 1865, shows Maj.-Gen. Walthall in command of Stewart's Corps, Adams' Brigade, commanded by Col. Richard Harrison, the Fifteenth Regiment by Lieut. E. Love. April 9, the brigade, including an Alabarns and a Louisiana regiment, under the command of Brig.-Gen. Robert Lowry. The Sixth, Fifteenth, Twentieth and Twenty-third Mississippi Regiments were consolidated as the Fifteenth - Lieut.-Col. Thomas B. Graham commanding.

Hostilities were suspended April 18, the army was surrendered April 26 at Durham Station, and paroled at Greensboro.

 

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